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Europe is not a market, it is the will to live together

by Frank Schnittger Tue Jul 17th, 2018 at 07:08:49 PM EST

Esteban Gonzales Pons: speech on Brexit, European Parliament - 2017

Europe is currently bound to the North by popularism, and to the South by refugees drowned in the sea. To the east by Putin's tanks, and to the West by Trump's wall. In the past by war, in the future by Brexit. Today, Europe is alone more than ever, but it's citizens do not know it.

Europe is, however, for that reason the best solution and we do not know how to explain that to our citizens. Globalisation teaches us that today Europe is inevitable, there is no alternative.

But Brexit also tells us that Europe is reversible, that you can walk backwards in history, even though outside of Europe, it is very cold.

Brexit is the most selfish decision ever made since Winston Churchill saved Europe  with the blood sweat and tears of the English.

Saying Brexit is the most insidious way of saying goodbye.

Europe is not a market, it is the will to live together. Leaving Europe is not leaving a market, it is leaving shared dreams. We can have a common market, but if we do not have common dreams, we have nothing. Europe is the peace that came after the disaster of war. Europe is the pardon between French and Germans. Europe is the return to freedom of Greece, Spain and Portugal. Europe is the fall of the Berlin Wall. Europe is the end of communism. Europe is the welfare state, it is democracy. Europe is fundamental rights.

As Fintan O'Toole has pointed out Theresa May's much heralded White paper is devoid of any understanding of what the EU is about, or any vision for what the UK should strive for outside the EU. It has satisfied neither Brexiteers nor Remainers and is most unlikely to be agreeable to the EU.


Having lost no less than 10 Ministers and many votes in the Lords, together with some close calls in the Commons, the name of the game for Theresa May now is survival until the summer recess during which time it becomes much more difficult to oust her as Tory Leader or as Prime Minister.

She will then have the opportunity to use the recess to negotiate the best deal possible with the EU and put that to a vote in the Commons once it returns. If she loses she can either resign or go to the country.

I suspect the deal will be so unpopular with both Brexiteers and Remainers that she would lose the Commons vote and any general election to Corbyn. The trick, from a Brexiteer perspective, is to force her to resign as PM before she can go to the country. That way Boris or some other Leaver can replace her and proceed to a no-deal "clean" Brexit.

Boris rivals Trump as a denier of reality and would probably get away with his bluster for quite some time. He could form a temporary alliance with Trump. Perhaps he thinks he can force the EU to concede him much better terms than they will offer May, but why would they? He has built his career on belittling the EU and all who work for it.

Corbyn, on the other hand, has few friends in the EU and many potential hard right enemies on the EU Council. The EU will also hardly offer him a better Brexit deal than they offered May. So he too, would be faced with a choice between May's deal, a no deal Brexit, or a second referendum.

Given that he will have campaigned against May's deal in the election and that his victory represents a popular rejection of that deal, the Referendum will effectively be a choice between a no-deal Brexit or a decision to stay in. He could offer the EU the option of giving the UK much better terms of membership - from his point of view - as the price of persuading the UK electorate to vote remain.

The EU might actually be amenable to many of the reforms Corbyn might seek - tighter control of external immigration, Increased funding for social and regional funds. Greater accountability and transparency in decision making. So the second referendum would be a straight choice between a no deal Brexit and continued membership of a "reformed" EU.

If the reforms are credible, they could offer the UK a way out of it's current predicament without losing face. The A. 50 notification could then be re-framed as a clever ruse to force the EU to mend its ways and voters could feel they are now being offered a better deal.

But there are two problems with this scenario: Firstly, would the EU, increasingly influenced by hard right parties, agree to a substantial "reform" of the EU on largely social democratic lines, and secondly, would UK voters buy into it, with many previously having bought into Brexiteer dreams of a free and global Britain?

And there are two further imponderables for this scenario to even come about. Firstly, May must survive long enough to actually negotiate a deal and call an election before Brexiteers can oust her. And secondly, Corbyn would have to actually want to remain in the EU, even one remodelled somewhat more to his liking. Would he buy into a vision of Europe such as outlined by Esteban Gonzales Pons?

History is often misleadingly written as determined largely by the actions of great (or not so great) leaders. Much more often it is determined by hard military, economic and political realities. But there are also times when the choices made by leaders can be decisive. What futures will May and her successor choose?

For me there are still too many "ifs","buts" and "maybes" for the scenario of the UK remaining within the EU to be credible as the most likely outcome. What has changed for me is that the whole Brexit process has been so chaotic and incompetent, it is now possible to envisage a scenario whereby Brexit might be reversed. Still an unlikely outcome perhaps, but no longer incredible. The whole process really has been handled that badly to date.

My problem is that I really don't have all that much faith in either May or Corbyn to rise above narrow and immediate personal and partisan concerns. They may also not have the authority or ability to deliver such an outcome, even if they wanted to. The most likely scenario still seems an absolute train-wreck no-deal Brexit. But maybe the summer sun is getting to me. We can but live in hope.

Display:
Before a thing can be done it is necessary that some conceive that it is possible and desirable. Brexit passed by less than 2% for fuck's sake, in an election campaigned on the assumption it would fail and conducted in a reprehensible manner. What would be helpful now is a campaign by a group not currently in Parliament to have another Brexit vote, now that the problems with such a deal have become more apparent. That would likely cause May's government to fall. Were a tide of favorable opinion develop perhaps Corbyn might come to see the virtue of seizing that tide, and, if successful in forming a government, finding a way to stay in the EU or negotiate a more favorable set of terms for leaving.

Assuming a hard Brexit is inevitable is tantamount to endorsing a hard Brexit. Optimism can be a choice and should be here.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Jul 17th, 2018 at 08:32:34 PM EST
Pools in the UK are still relatively balanced between Labour and the Conservatives, although Labour has taken a small lead recently. Polls asking how voters would vote in a second referendum on the EU, if held now, have also been reasonably balanced until recently, when the Remain side has taken a small lead.

So while it is by no means a slam dunk, the likelihood is that voters would vote to remain and would vote in a Labour government if given the choice. These trends have yet to have much impact on sentiment in Westminster, however, where attitudes have polarised and hardened.

The Lib Dems - the only party unambiguously pro-Remain - have remained marooned around 9-10%, meaning they would win few seats and have little chance of helping to form a government.

So the bottom line is that a lot still depends on how May and Corbyn act. Third parties outside Parliament have little chance of having much influence. Even the business lobby has had difficulty getting its voice heard.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 17th, 2018 at 10:03:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are saying that the will is not there. I accept that analysis. But that is why the campaign I advocated is needed. This should not be partisan. If 55%+ of the electorate want a new vote on Brexit that introduces a new circumstance into the situation.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2018 at 07:11:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think a critique of Mr Trump's "performance" with Madame May is in order. That is to lend a fresh, immediate comparison of narcissistic, treasonous, and humiliating behavior of heads of state purportedly engaged in international diplomacy.

While you impatiently await the direct result of such endeavors to which you are subject and captive audience.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Tue Jul 17th, 2018 at 09:04:38 PM EST
Trump could not have been more damaging to May if he had tried, and presumably that was the intention. He undercut the whole logic of her negotiating position (based on retaining access to the EU market but also getting a free trade deal with the USA) and praised her chief critic and arch rival, Boris Johnson.  His démarche on Putin also destroys her policy on Russia and the Novichok attacks. He utterly humiliated her and then promptly lavished praise on her after their meeting undermining his own credibility even further - if that was possible.

Frankly I don't write about him because there is nothing worth writing about. He has nothing positive to contribute to anything. Ironically, his undermining of cold war narratives has its positive aspects, but even here he is totally inconsistent, criticising Merkel's Germany for making deals with Russia while trying to do the same. If it's not about Trump he is negative or disinterested. All he is doing is uniting most of the world against him (and the USA). In that sense he may even be helping increase internal EU solidarity.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 17th, 2018 at 10:18:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Der Drumpfenfuehrer was deliberately attempting to help Boor-ass.  The only question is to what extent the two are already back-channeled.
by rifek on Wed Jul 18th, 2018 at 04:15:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The link tying Cambridge Analytica, AggregateIQ, Trump and Brexit is called Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer.
by Bjinse on Wed Jul 18th, 2018 at 10:17:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not going to write much about Trump either: US issues are firstly for USians (Monroe doctrine, sort of). The only things that matter for us is the impact of Trump on Europe. And here, his goal has become increasingly clear: to destroy the EU (along with many international institutions). And to prop up authoritarian, nationalistic regimes à la Orban or Erdogan in a fragmented Europe. In that, he's de facto aligned with Putin and the Brexiters.

To fend this attack, the only way forward for the EU is to work together more than ever and focus on the challenges: right wing parties rising over immigration, trade dependencies, defense dependencies,..  Brexit is fast becoming 5th harmonic (except for the impact on Eire).

by Bernard on Wed Jul 18th, 2018 at 07:18:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
until March 29, 2019, 897 days until the UK is officially out of the EU.

It's been 822 days since the start of the Brexit campaign.

In that 822 days the Tories have accomplished Sweet Fanny Adams.  

There is no reason to expect the Tories to accomplish anything in the next 897 days.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue Jul 17th, 2018 at 09:31:45 PM EST
The UK is out in 255 days. Where do you get the 897 days from?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 17th, 2018 at 09:43:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Days until December 30, 2020 and the end of the transition period.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Jul 17th, 2018 at 09:50:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Jul 17th, 2018 at 09:52:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes but there is no transition period if there is no deal, and formally the UK is out of the EU next March regardless. Anything agreed during the transition period will require the unanimous agreement of the Council as it would for any deal involving a non member.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 17th, 2018 at 10:21:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... maybe the EU agreeing to a Transition Period is what is giving Remainders hope Brexit can be walked back?

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Tue Jul 17th, 2018 at 09:55:50 PM EST
I'm increasingly pessimistic.

I think we'll see an asteroid-crash disaster in March, followed by riots and social unrest, followed by a state of national emergency, followed by a fascist government, with close ties to the US far-right and Russia.

Which presumably was the plan all along.

I take little comfort from the fact that I'll have left by then, because a lot of people I know will still be here.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jul 17th, 2018 at 11:12:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, I've finally found someone who is even more pessimistic than I.

I've always seen the negative effects of Brexit as being long term and incremental rather than short-term and dramatic. More a case of people being in denial rather than widespread social unrest.

But hey, you live in the UK and I don't. Maybe you have a better sense of what is lurking just beneath the surface.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 17th, 2018 at 11:22:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No deal crash-out is looking like a real possibility at this point. So the NHS is stockpiling medicines, plans are being made to stockpile food, and no one knows what happens to flights, because in theory they should stop.

Absolutely none of this is grounds for optimism - because it's clear that the lead Brexiters are craven and venal enough to find this acceptable, and their followers are deluded enough to be looking forward to it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Jul 18th, 2018 at 07:01:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I just learned today that the 'glorious' revolution of 1688 was basically a Dutch invasion. Funny how that got dropped from the history books.

Anyway, now that your default no-deal crash Brexit case looks prescient, my cynical detachment is dissipating.

Having sat on their hands, Labour maybe will simply collect when the Tories have turned it all into shit. The problem is time is running out and there may not be much left to collect once this show has crashed. A bad accident of history is just waiting to happen.

Am I naive to think that those mad contortions in the Commons can not possibly be a deliberate strategy? An anarchic chaos strategy chanced upon by May to let the contradictions of Brexit fully run its course so that... what? Find soft Brexit? No Brexit? In another election or referendum? I would welcome the irony if it (accidentally) came to pass (with lots of unwitting Brexiteer help) but I don't think so.

As Chris Grey says: "Brexit in its nature is divisive, but it's quite an achievement to have alienated every shade of opinion." Ms May is simply not the type to ride the surfing board of chaos very well.

In conclusion, I'm not stocking up on spam but I am looking to expedite the sale of my UK stocks.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Tue Jul 17th, 2018 at 11:28:50 PM EST
González Plus is a nationalist who would take Spain out of Schengen in spite over a German court decision not to extradite Varies Puigdemont for rebellion.

Nice speech, though.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jul 18th, 2018 at 09:30:38 AM EST
He may be a nationalist in internal Spanish terms - vis a vis Catalonia - but he seems very much pro-EU in European terms. His speech was made in 2017, before the Puigdemont extradition decision was made. I'm not sure an opt out of Schengen would now be possible for Spain, and doubt it would make extradition any easier. If Spain has any sense they will leave Puigdemont to smoulder away in exile from Spain - pour encourager les autres. The German court has done Spain a favour.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 18th, 2018 at 11:04:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Europe is not a market, it is the will to live together
The EU might actually be amenable to many of the reforms Corbyn might seek - tighter control of external immigration, Increased funding for social and regional funds. Greater accountability and transparency in decision making. So the second referendum would be a straight choice between a no deal Brexit and continued membership of a "reformed" EU.

I disagree with every statement in this quote. I don't remember that Corbyn was ever concerned with controlling external migration though I think the current position is that FoM will come to an end after Brexit. And Europe is building more walls on its own without any UK input. The EU is also very unlikely to reform in the direction of more transparency. In fact all the movement recently has been in the opposite direction. An EU IMF to move even more economic decisions out of the realm of legitimate debate?

And finally, as you point out there is no political will on the Continent to give the Brits yet another special break. And May is ideologically one of them. Corbyn they would loath.

by generic on Wed Jul 18th, 2018 at 09:55:04 AM EST
Also, there is no time. No time for a second referendum, no time for a general election and certainly no time to approve a reform of the EU status quo.
If May doesn't deliver a deal there will either be none or the EU side will write one up on their own and Corbyn will be forced to sign it without change if you can squeeze a general election in.
by generic on Wed Jul 18th, 2018 at 10:05:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If there is a general election this year, and a new government negotiates a new deal before March 2019, I'm sure the EU Council would agree an extension of the A. 50 period to allow the ratification process time to be completed. Perhaps 3 Months. What I suspect they won't do is agree such an extension in the absence of an initialled agreement - on the grounds that A.50 provides an adequate period for negotiations and there is no telling how long it might take to reach an agreement otherwise.

The October deadline was always somewhat artificial. There is no mention of it in A.50, and it shouldn't take 6 months to ratify a deal through member Parliaments etc. But here I admit I am speculating on the intentions of 27 independent governments and even more parliaments - a perilous thing to do.

In the entire Brexit debate in the UK, it has always been assumed that the EU is some kind of Stalinist monolith which will have no difficulty in agreeing and ratifying any deal the UK government is prepared to offer. That may be the case once Germany and France are on board and the decision is made by weighted  majority voting. However, once we move beyond March any decision has to be unanimous and it only takes one disgruntled EU member to de-rail the entire process. Lega Nord anyone? Visegrád? The UK and Brussels have made many potential enemies.

While everyone is looking at the antics in the Commons, let us not forget that things are evolving on the EU side as well. With Trump, Putin, the Refugee crisis, Brexit and economic inequality assailing the EU on every side any sense that the UK is lining up with the EU's assailants will not make the ratification process plain sailing - on either side. So an A.50 extension may well be needed but not available. Cue consternation in the UK, that it is the EU which has ultimately opted for no deal. "But we are entitled to a deal!" No you're not. There are two sides to any agreement.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jul 18th, 2018 at 10:53:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]

The People's Mess: What was the question?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Wed Jul 18th, 2018 at 07:07:08 PM EST
The rest of the world is about to quietly put the United Kingdom into quarantine, board up the Channel Tunnel and paint a giant plague sign over the entrance, shaking its head sorrowfully all the while and talking about us in the past tense.

no escape
Leaving EU would make UK the North Korea of Europe, warns Gordon Brown

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Wed Jul 18th, 2018 at 07:14:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Intuitively I think that May, if she keeps her majority, will muddle through and deliver on a soft brexit.
This is predicated on some admittedly optimistic hypotheses : finding an alternative to the DUP in order to deliver a border in the Irish Sea (LibDems anyone?); limping over the line in March. Then starts the two-year transition period where nothing much changes materially (except economic attrition as business flees to Ireland and the continent), a Labour government can be elected, and the whole lousy idea can be canned.

Whatever the state of the "binding" and "irreversible" process, it can be rolled back. Must be rolled back.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Jul 19th, 2018 at 04:34:02 PM EST
Once March 19th is past, the UK is out. Not a member. Must reapply.

Not going to happen in the short run.

UK Remainers should be pushing for A50 extension.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2018 at 04:49:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And this is, of course, what the Leavers are holding out for at any cost.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Jul 19th, 2018 at 04:53:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Instinctively I feel you're wrong about this one. If push comes to shove, and there are people on the UK side of the table who are competent and willing to negotiate, I think the EU side might be fairly flexible. Because any sort of Brexit is expensive and quite complicated to manage.

There would, of course, be no concessions. No rewards for fucking the UE around for years. That's the existential issue for the UE : preserving the status quo is preferable to Brexit, but you don't reward that sort of behaviour.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Thu Jul 19th, 2018 at 07:36:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Neither the UK government nor the main opposition party have indicated they want to remain. What we are arguing about is the precise shape Brexit will take. If there is no deal the divorce will be acrimonious indeed, with both parties moving further apart in the short term. After that it will take a generation before the UK might be willing to rejoin, and at least a generation before the EU might be willing to let them.

This isn't about economics any more. On the UK side it is about the Eton/Oxbridge crowd taking back control. On the EU side it is about self preservation. On the Irish side it will become about re-unification - in about 10 years time. It will get a lot worse before it gets better, and I am one that has always argued that getting worse is not a necessary precursory for getting better. But sometimes societal change can take a very long time, and revolutions can take a lot longer.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Jul 19th, 2018 at 08:06:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
and there are people on the UK side of the table who are competent and willing to negotiate

If there are any people of that kind in the UK, now would be a perfect time to step forward.

The past two years have not been encouraging in that regard.

by Bernard on Thu Jul 19th, 2018 at 08:26:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]

The British and Irish editions of Friday's Sun newspaper

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was branded an "airhead" and an "EU Toady" on the front page of the UK tabloid the Sun on Friday morning.

The insults are a response to Mr Varadkar's comments about the impact of a potential "no-deal" Brexit on air travel next year.

"The situation at the moment is that the United Kingdom is part of the single European sky, and if they leave the EU they are not, and that does mean that if there was a no-deal, hard Brexit next March the planes would not fly and Britain would be an island in many ways and that is something that they need to think about," the Taoiseach said in Kerry two days ago.
The Irish and British editions of Friday's Sun newspaper The Irish and British editions of Friday's Sun newspaper

"You cannot have your cake and eat it. You can't take back your waters and then expect to use other people's sky."



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 20th, 2018 at 01:10:48 PM EST
What about the Irish Sun itself? Can a British paper be published in the EU after Brexit?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Fri Jul 20th, 2018 at 02:05:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see why not. The EU doesn't regulate newspaper publishing...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 20th, 2018 at 02:37:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More Fake News from the Tabloid BBC

The BBC yesterday and this morning are reporting Varadkar's comments as banning overflying Ireland by UK aircraft. Presumably that is how the Sun and certain factions of the Conservative party have chosen to report it. [I don't read the Sun !]

BBC is not emaphasing the legal problems for all UK flights, maintenance staff and maintenance operations, if UK drops out of EASA agreements on March 29th, though this morning one of their interviewees (rather weakly in my opinion) turned the report to that aspect.

by oldremainmer48 on Sat Jul 21st, 2018 at 09:07:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's inexcusably factually wrong. Varadker said nothing about over-flying - merely that landing rights are governed by membership of EU open skies agreement. But perhaps Varadker knew how it would be played and used it as a headline grabbing "hard line" riposte to May's DUP courting. Still, the BBC used to be mostly factually accurate if very selective in its facts.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 21st, 2018 at 09:36:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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